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Foreign tourist arrivals notched up a 6.8% growth with 8.44 lakh arrivals in January 2016 as compared to 7.91 lakh during the same month last year.

India is upbeat with senior tourism officials estimating a 10% growth in 2016. The arrivals in January are a significant improvement from the total growth of 4.5% in 2015.

Speaking to TOI Union tourism secretary Vinod Zutshi said, "We estimate that foreign tourist arrivals will increase by 10% and domestic tourist growth will go up by 15% this year. There are series of initiatives taken by the government including online visa and other visa reforms whose impact will be felt now."

Foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) from tourism have also shown a healthy increase of 13% from Rs 12,100 crore in January 2015 to Rs 13,669 crore this year.

The US topped the list of percentage share of foreign tourists arrivals in India during January among the top 15 source countries with 15.29% share, followed by Bangladesh (11.99%), the UK (11.23%), Canada (4.87%), Australia (3.97%) and Russian Federation (3.71%).

Germany's share was 3.27%, while that of France 2.98%, Sri Lanka 2.97%, China 2.74% followed by Malaysia 2.59%, Japan 2.38%, Korea 1.82%, Nepal 1.76% and Afghanistan at 1.62%.

The percentage share of foreign tourist arrivals among the top 15 ports was highest at the Delhi Airport (28.38%) followed by Mumbai Airport (19.59%), Chennai Airport (7.92%), Haridaspur Land check post (6.58%), Bengaluru Airport (5.72%) and Goa Airport (5.68%).

A large part of this increase can be attributed to the introduction of online visa facility that has now been extended to over 100 countries. Among the visa reforms that the tourism ministry is pursuing including extending the e-visa facility for medical and business travellers, increasing the time period of stay on a e-visa from 30 to 60 days and increasing the application time for the online visa. The ministry has also asked the home ministry to extend the facility to ports and allow multiple entry on the online visa as against the current provision of single entry.

Officials said that these provisions were being considered by the inter-ministerial committee and some measures were likely to be introduced soon.

 


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